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Govt gazettes Public Finance Amendment Bill

by Staff reporter
04 Apr 2021 at 22:32hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT last week gazetted the Public Finance Amendment Bill (2021) which seeks to align the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) to the Constitution as well as strengthen parliamentary oversight over use of public funds to curb corruption.

The Bill comes at a time when civic society groups such as the Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) have been calling on government to strengthen the PFMA by providing legal safeguards for the management of public finances.

Every year, Auditor-General Mildred Shiri has exposes gross mismanagement of public funds by ministries and government departments, as well as their failure to follow what is stipulated in the PFMA, resulting in the country losing millions of dollars due to corruption.

The proposed Public Finance Amendment Bill will also amend section 4(1) of the PFMA to cater for provincial and metropolitan councils and local authorities.

Zimcodd in a recent report on the Public Finance Management Bill said the amendments should ensure transparency and accountability, as well as sound management of revenues, expenditure, assets and liabilities of government entities.

"The objective of the Act should be more detailed by including other principles of sound public financial management as outlined in section 298 of the Constitution. The objective as it stands has two principles: transparency and accountability. There is need to include other important principles such as prudency, equity, economic use of resources, effectiveness and pro-marginalised groups and areas," Zimcodd said.

It said Parliament should be conferred powers to oversee State revenues and expenditures in the Bill to be crafted as stipulated by section 299 of the Constitution.

Zimcodd wants the Finance minister to be responsible for the management of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) in consultation with Parliament.

Currently, section 11(2) of the PFMA allows for the minister to bring a condonation Bill seeking forgiveness before Parliament which writes off public resources advanced to funds or other entities, if Treasury is of the opinion that the money is irrecoverable.

But Zimcodd said section 11(2) of the current PFMA must be amended.

"The provision should be amended to allow parliamentary approval before the debts are written off," it said.

To enhance transparency and accountability, Zimcodd also proposed that the Bill must ensure that the Finance minister fixes the terms and conditions of loans with the approval of Parliament to avoid the country incurring heavy debts.

"The Constitution requires that an Act of Parliament must set limits on borrowings by the State, the public debt, and debts and obligations whose payment or repayment is guaranteed by the State; and that those limits must not be exceeded without the authority of the National Assembly," it said.

Source - newsday

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